David Lewis

Stuart Tolhurst Memorial Award winner

It’s no surprise that David Lewis chose engineering as his trade. The 22-year-old Rotorua engineering apprentice admits he’s always enjoyed pulling things apart to learn how they work.

Originally intending to go to university to study mechatronics, a change in the NCEA credit system saw him undertake an engineering apprenticeship. “My metalwork teacher thought I’d be better in a trade. He called up Competenz and two days’ later I had an interview, within a week I started at Damar Industries.”

David completed his four-year apprenticeship in March 2019, qualifying as a maintenance engineer. He plans to continue studying toward a Level 6 diploma in mechanical engineering and electrical. “I’d like to be an instrument technician and work with a wide range of engineering instruments. These are essential pieces of machinery that keep a manufacturing plant running.”

Now permanently employed with Damar Industries, the largest compliant manufacturer of dangerous goods in New Zealand, David plays a critical role in developing solutions on site, according to chairman Scott Thomson.

“It’s a complex environment that requires a high standard of compliance and David is a highly dependable, honest and diligent employee. His colleagues agree that he has a bright future ahead of him.”

Opting to do an apprenticeship rather than a university degree has been “definitely the best option” for David. “University is not the only way to go about your future. I’ve learned a lot in
my apprenticeship training that my friends doing engineering degrees haven’t even heard of.”

Recently, David won the coveted Stuart Tolhurst Memorial Award, an award that remembers the application engineer and New Zealand expert in rolling element bearing design and application. “Winning the award has shown me that I’m good at what I do and the people I work with are happy with my work.”